published Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Volkswagen Passat price rising for 2013 (with video)

Workmen on the sealer line at Volkswagen's paint shop inspect a vehicle. The Passats are headed to spray booths for painting.
Workmen on the sealer line at Volkswagen's paint shop inspect a vehicle. The Passats are headed to spray booths for painting.
Photo by Tim Barber.
Tour Volkswagen's Chattanooga paint shop
Production of the all-new Volkswagen Passat, specifically designed for the American market, is running full-speed inside the paint shop at the company's Chattanooga facility, with more than 600 cars being painted each day.

PASSAT COSTS

2013 engine type, model, price and 2012 cost:

• 2.5-liter S — $20,845, up from $19,995

• 2.5-liter SE — $23,945, up from $23,725

• TDI SE — $26,225, up from $25,995

• 2.5-liter SEL — $28,925, up from $28,395

• 3.6-liter SE — $29,235, up from $28,995

• 3.6-liter SEL — $33,525, up from $32,950

Source: Volkswagen

In the drive by Volkswagen to give Americans a midsize sedan designed for them, the automaker still is trying to get the Chattanooga-made Passat's cupholders just right.

That's one of the changes in the 2013 Passat, which will retain the same exterior sheet metal as this year's version but hold a handful of interior revisions.

The base price will jump $850, to $20,845 for the 2013 Passat, which is to hit dealers in late August or September, said Mark Gillies, Volkswagen of America's manager for product and technology.

Gillies said the cupholders will be better integrated into the sedan's center console. The Passat SE and SEL will receive the new console that incorporates rear air vents, the new cupholder design and a revised covered front stowage area.

The biggest safety change for 2013 is that all SEL models will have a rearview backup camera.

"It's a good safety feature," Gillies said. "We're seeing them more and more on vehicles."

The 2012 Passat was totally redesigned as German engineers focused on producing a car aimed at American motorists, and the company formally opened its $1 billion assembly plant in Chattanooga last year.

On Wednesday, officials who gave reporters a rare look at the plant's paint shop said that it's producing between 600 and 640 cars a day in one of the Passat's eight basic exterior colors.

"We're running full bore," said Bobby Dean Parker, the paint shop's general manager.

VW officials especially talked up the shop's environmentally friendly process. They said the Chattanooga factory is the first auto plant worldwide using a system that produces no liquid paint sludge.

In the dry scrubber system, air is used in the paint shop and filtered through limestone.

"It takes the paint out of the air," said Leslie Williams, the paint shop's assistant manager. The limestone granules are then sent to a landfill in Georgia where they're utilized in a cleansing procedure, according to VW.

The company said the novel process can save an estimated 12.5 million gallons of water a year.

The paint shop uses 58 robots in the production of the Passat, sales of which have pleased VW officials so far.

Gillies said the price jump for the 2013 Passat still will keep the sedan in line with its competition, which includes the Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu.

Sales of the Passat topped the 10,000 mark in June and hit an all-time high in the U.S., officials said earlier this month.

"It's obviously doing very well," Gillies said.

The Passat's clean diesel model accounted for about 21 percent of its 10,252 in June sales.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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